I Accidentally Enjoyed the All-Star Game

I woke up this morning, unfurled my Internet browser, and read that I had made a mistake. I accidentally enjoyed the 2010 MLB All-Star Game.

According to Tom Verducci, I’ve “been hoodwinked.” He argues that I shouldn’t have enjoyed the game because it counts but managers didn’t manage like it counts, and that there are too many weird rules, and that Big Papi–Heaven forbid!–actually ran the bases. “You cannot take the game seriously when it is played this way,” Verducci writes.

To paraphrase the Big Lebowski, “You’re not wrong, Tom, you’re just an asshole.”

Now, I don’t want to go too far. Verducci’s not an asshole, he ‘s just being that kid on the playground who is too smart for his own good, explaining why a rocket ship built from a jungle gym would never work. His column gives the sense that he sat there watching the All-Star game in a manic state, his temperature rising with every circus-like roster change. You know what, Tom? Instead of questioning the managerial merits of his being out there, I’d prefer to enjoy Big Papi scooting around the bases like he was in a three-legged race with an invisible partner.

In the end, I don’t think Tom is the problem. In fact, I think he’s right: they’ve tinkered with the All-Star Game too much. Which means, in the end, that they are forcing us to think about the All-Star Game. If there’s one thing any baseball fan can do–and do extensively, with little provocation–it is break a game apart and question each of its specificities. By “making it count,” MLB opened the floodgates. And while fans are free to take it as seriously or with as many grains of salt as the endless hurricane of daily life allows, the professionals must report on the game as if it counts. That is their mandate, as handed down by those who determine what matters. As a result, we get Verducci’s article, and we get JoePos’ “argument gone wrong” about Matt Thornton. Silly them and the way that they take their jobs seriously, while punks like myself make fun of them.

The secret to my success (ie. my accidental enjoyment of the ASG) is that I watched it like it was an exhibition. Lucky me, I’m not paid to treat it any other way.

I’m more in the camp of ‘Duk over at Big League Stew, who provided a fun round-up of the events, and a few light critiques. When it comes to All-Star weekend, I’m a supporter of light critiques.

What I enjoyed most: the pitching. My god, the PITCHING! David Price humming it in there, Ubaldo humming it in there, Josh Johnson humming it in there, Verlander humming it in there. Cliff Lee even hit 94! How great is the pitching when Roy Halladay seems like a bit of a let-down?

As one gas-thrower after another came into the game, I felt the exhilaration of a true exhibition. These guys were on display, and I got to see players like Josh Johnson who I’ve never watched pitch before. More, more, more! Like a kid at the circus who never wants the clowns to stop rolling out of the Volkwagen Beetle.

UPDATE: Eric has reminded me not to forget, in my litany of dudes humming it in there, Kuo, who,  apparently, knows Kuo.

You cannot take the game seriously when it is played this way.

3 Responses to “I Accidentally Enjoyed the All-Star Game”

  • I realize it’s kind of pointless for me to say this, being that you are you and I am me, but I totally agree with everything you wrote here.

  • I enjoyed the humming of pitches as much as you did, Ted. The first 4 you mentioned (Price, Ubaldo, Josh Johnson, and Verlander) are ALL on my ESPN Keeper team. I felt like a very proud father watching them dominate last night. I rarely get to see any of them pitch, so I suppose I felt more like a father with bimonthly visitation rights.

  • Each year, I go through what I like to call the five stages of All-Star game. First is anger. The sheer outrage when a player I backed or liked–and most likely did not vote for–who does not make the team. I swear not to watch the game, call it a travesty, complain to captive strangers on the subway. Next is bargaining. I convince myself that I didn’t ACTUALLY want, say, Kevin Youkilis, to go, because the last thing the Red Sox need is a repeat of Ted Williams exhibition injury that, almost more than the wars, ruined his career. Then comes acceptance. I DID want him to go, but I’m okay that he didn’t. Next comes scorn–who watches te All-Star game anyways? Who cares? Finally, I sit down and watch the freaking game and enjoy myself.

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